Ecumenism allows us to build relationships and engage in dialogue with other Christian communities—all in service of fostering an increase in respect and trust. It is easy, though, to overlook this important aspect of Engagement. Archbishop Vigneron reminds us of the importance of connecting with other Christian communities in Unleash the Gospel:
We also recognize that Catholics are not the only ones who are seeking to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in southeast Michigan. We honor and support the efforts of our brothers and sisters in other Christian communions to bear witness to Christ. God is at work in them, and there is much we can learn from their evangelistic fervor. Wherever possible we should work together with them to bring the light of Christ into our city and region, although without ceasing to proclaim the fullness of Catholic teaching. As Pope Francis affirms, because the disunity among Christians is a counter-witness to the Gospel, commitment to unity is “an indispensable path to evangelization.”
—Unleash the Gospel, 3.2
Here are three approaches to ecumenism that your Family of Parishes could engage in this spring.
Prayer: The first Thursday of May is the National Day of Prayer. Officially recognized since the 1950s as a way of uniting people of faith in prayer, this can be a great opportunity to pray with and for our Christian brothers and sisters. Consider extending the celebration throughout the month and praying for Christian unity at your Masses, gatherings, and meetings throughout the Easter season.
Service: Finding a shared area of concern or need is another way to connect. Many Families of Parishes already collaborate with food pantries and clothes closets. Consider additional ways, such ashelping clean up a local park or cemetery. Those who come together to complete the tasks can begin and end their time together in prayer. This approach could be used with other service initiatives, such as visiting an assisted living center, serving at a soup kitchen, or a neighborhood clean-up.
Community: Consider something that allows members from different Christian faiths to come together and reflect on an aspect of faith, build relationships, and get to know one another. This could be viewing episodes of The Chosen together with some table discussion after, ora praise and worship event featuring the music of some Catholic-Christian artists, such as Matt Maher or Sarah Hart, utilizing the musical talents from the different faith communities. Also, consider the needs of people in similar stages of life. Perhaps there is a way you can help build community for a specific audience, such as young moms, families, or empty-nesters.
While it may be easy to see the differences between our faith practices, intentionally practicing ecumenism allows us to recognize God working in those around us. May we reflect on these words of St. Paul as we consider our ecumenical efforts:
I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)